For 40 years, Tina Arena’s music has been a constant within Australian pop culture, and the soundtrack to countless lives both on our shores and across the world. Every album she has ever released has gone gold, platinum or multi-platinum. Remarkable as she is, Tina is not one to take the easy route, choosing to diversify her craft and experiment within different genres throughout her career. Now with her keynote at BIGSOUND being announced, industry heavyweights and punters alike will all be able to learn something from this tenacious, well-spoken star. We chatted to the feisty pocket rocket ahead of her speech.
40 years in the industry is an extraordinary achievement. Have you ever fought through periods where you felt like totally changing direction or has the dream stayed alive for you the whole time?
Thank-you, yes 40 years is an achievement that’s for sure. The dream doesn’t always stay alive, there are ups and downs, but I think that’s the case in any career. I have thought about doing other things of course. I think I’m quite lucky though as my journey has been quite diverse and that keeps things interesting. There’s been the singing and song-writing of course, working in other languages, but I also do theatre and TV and Symphonic shows, I’ve written a book, I’ve developed a fragrance that I’m really proud of (with Bertrand Duchaufour who has created scent for Dior & Givenchy). I’ve done loads of charity work and I’m starting to do some acting work, and as much as I love Australia, I’m very fortunate to have been able to work internationally for the last 25 years, it keeps things interesting.
The music industry and the way audiences devour music have changed dramatically during your career. In your opinion what is the main negative about those changes, and the main positive?
That’s a big question. Yeah it’s gone from vinyl to cassette to CD to MP3 to streaming.
Positives: music is more accessible to everyone & you can hear any song from anywhere in the world in an instant.
Negatives: there aren’t many record stores anymore which is sad, I think in some ways music has been devalued and piracy hit us hard. I wish streaming was monetised more efficiently from the start. Consumers have never had Netflix for free, it was always around $10 from the very first day – people didn’t complain about that. If streaming services charged $5 a month from the start, in my opinion, things would be healthier, not just for musicians but the music industry in general.
You’ve been well known for being your own harshest critic. Has that eased for you over time and with success?
Yes, I think it has eased. I’m very comfortable with where I’m at now, comfortable but not complacent.
For BIGSOUND programming and tickets, visit bigsound.org.au. Tina is performing a sold out show at The Star Gold Coast on 9 September. Limited tickets are still available for her Toowoomba show on 10 September. Visit renaissancetimaarena.com
IMAGE: Tina Arena performing with Client Liaison at Splendour in the Grass. (c) Patrick Stevenson